Home > Torn (Demon Kissed #3)(9)

Torn (Demon Kissed #3)(9)
Author: H.M. Ward

Collin's fingers threaded through my hair as I looked up at him. He pushed back stray curls like he did when we were at school and I was upset about something. Now all those times seemed so trivial. I thought my world was falling apart then, and he acted the same. His steadfast nature gave me hope. Maybe I wouldn't become the monster that fate carved out for me. Maybe I could still be someone else.

A curl slipped between his fingers and brushed my face. "I'm sorry about Eric. I know you guys were friends." I nodded at him, but said nothing. When I didn't speak he asked, "So, Shannon the shrew is a full-blown Martis? And you shoved her through a black mirror?" I nodded again. His gaze bore into me. Those blue eyes were so intense that it was impossible to look away. My heart raced below my tattered shirt. It felt like he could see right through me. He smiled, "Sounds normal. For you. And what else? What aren't you telling me?"

My stomach twisted in knots at the question. Did the bond give me away? Could he really tell that I didn't tell him everything? I couldn't tell him what I did to Eric. I didn't want to admit it to myself yet, and Collin - I just couldn't tell him. I couldn't risk it.

Finally he saved me from my thoughts and asked, "The glass? You can conjure the Locoician Glass! That's incredible!"

Relieved that he didn't more about Eric, I asked, "What? You mean the mirror?" He grabbed my hands and pulled me to sit next to him on a boulder. There was no one else around; it was just us in the darkness. The dragon, wherever he went, was out of sight for the moment.

He smiled at me, "Of course! That mirror hasn't been seen for centuries. It's a wicked looking glass - literally. It's made of a black mirror and brimstone. And it's cursed. No one's seen it since the demon Locoicia was killed. It was hers. And you can call it! That's amazing! What did you do with it?"

I didn't know what he was talking about. Confusion lit my face, "I didn't do anything with it." The idea of calling an evil mirror sort of unnerved me. I didn't realize I'd called it, and I had no idea what it did. One day it just appeared. Al thought it was evil, but she wasn't certain of its origins. Apparently she was right. That nun was always right.

I shrugged, "It showed up and I shoved Shannon through it. I didn't know what it was. The first time I saw it was when I had a vision about you. The next time was when I pushed Shannon through. It spit her out at the church in New York, and then it disappeared again. I haven't seen it since."

Collin's face fell. "You pushed Shannon through the mirror?" He closed his eyes, blinking hard. "Oh wow. That's not good." He turned toward me, "Ivy, the mirror is enchanted. It amplifies people's characteristics - their evil characteristics. Locoicia was a demon princess who wanted an army of unstoppable warriors. She would shove her slaves through the mirror to amplify their abilities. It made her army undefeatable."

My jaw dropped. "Are you saying I just made Shannon undefeatable?" My shoulders slumped, as I looked up into the thick black sky, and ran my fingers through my hair while pulling hard. What were the odds of that? Why does this stuff happen to me? Shaking my head in disgust, I looked at him saying, "She's their Seeker - the Martis chosen to kill me." The last part came out as a laugh. I'd enabled her to hunt me down and kill me even faster, and all without knowing it. Awesome.

"Yeah," Collin said with a coy smile on his face, "in the future, don't shove your enemies through the mirror." His voice was light and teasing. I shot him a look that said I was about to freak out, but he cut off my tirade, taking my hands in his. "It doesn't matter. She's up there. You're down here. She can't get at you down here."

"But that's just it," I said springing up from my seat and pulling our hands apart. Collin remained seated and watched me pace. I spoke at an increasing volume with my hands flying, desperation filling my voice, "I can't stay down here Collin. I don't belong here. I want to go home. I need to talk to Al. There are things happening that I don't understand. I can ask you about the Valefar side of things, but I'm part Martis too and if that part dies..."my voice trailed off. I couldn't even begin to fathom what my life would be like if I allowed that to happen.  "I don't want to lose that part of me. I can't become the Prophecy One. I have to do this. I have to sneak up there and find Al."

At one time I'd felt that I could have told Collin everything, but not now. Not when things were so precarious. It could lead to my undoing. And then I wasn't entirely certain of some things myself; like why was Lorren down here? How significant was it that he saved me - especially since there is an army of Martis trying to kill me? I stared at Collin's face wanting to say these things, but feeling like I couldn't. I hadn't told Collin about Lorren either. I didn't know what to think of that whole situation, and I wanted to discuss it with someone very much. But, revealing Lorren would also reveal my fatal wound. I couldn't say anything. Collin couldn't know. 

I needed Al for these things. I pushed back the thoughts before the bond betrayed me. Right now I knew that my emotions were running wild and that my thoughts were so jumbled he couldn't get an un-garbled read on me. One thought penetrated all the others. It cut through the worry and fear, shooting straight to the top of my mind.



He sighed and through the bond I felt that this was against his better judgment. He thought I was safer down here. He took my hand, "I'll take you to her, but we can't use the portal you're headed towards. We have to use a different one. Shannon will gut you the second you walk through the tomb." I shivered, and was about to tell him that I didn't think she could have gotten back so quickly, but Collin cut me off. "Sorry, but you have to realize what you're dealing with. Shannon is going to be everything she was - times a hundred. If she was good at something before, now she is going to be unbelievably fantastic. And if her job is to kill you, then you have to avoid her. Take no chances. There are no more near-misses, not with her. If you see her again, you have to realize that one of you is not walking away alive. If you see her again, kill her before she kills you."

I nodded. This is what my life had come to. It made me feel sick inside that Shannon had turned on me. I didn't want to think about it. If I could live the rest of my life without seeing her again, that would be okay. But the odds of that happened weren't good. Even with the poison in my chest.

Collin pulled me to my feet, explaining, "Valefar leave the Underworld through various portals. Once you know where they are, you can effonate there, and then pass through them. The living and the dead aren't supposed to mingle, and that includes us. I mean, me...and the Valefar. The angels went to great lengths to keep us separated from your world. But there are a few doors they didn't seal, because they didn't know of them." He winked at me. I wondered if he would have told me the portals locations if he knew there was an angel hiding out in Hell. An angel who would seal the portals. All of them.

I asked, "So, Valefar get around down here by effonating and then passing through a portal? We can't just effonate directly in or out of Hell?" He nodded. "But once we go through the portal, Valefar can effonate through the Underworld, just like they do above? They can go anywhere?" He nodded again. That must be why I never saw Valefar walking around down here. They didn't have to. And it avoided unnecessary unpleasantness with demon birds, dragons, and psychotic Valefar if they effonated. "Then why don't we just effonate to a portal?"

He replied, "We can't. The only portal you've ever seen is the one you came through to get down here. It's not safe to use that one again, and you can get to the other locations because you've never seen them," he paused gazing at me. "Besides, I'm not letting you out of my sight."

I smiled at him. I wasn't sure what'd he do. I asked, "So, you'll come with me?"

His eyebrows pinched together and he gave me a look that made me know that he thought my question was strange. "Yes. Why wouldn't I?"

I shrugged. "Just wasn't sure because of the way things happened before." I wasn't sure if Collin knew that Kreturus had been in him or not. He never acknowledged that he was possessed, and during the time we were apart, well - it was possible that Kreturus left him. Or Kreturus could still be in there, but I couldn't sense the old demon. Even during that kiss, there was no trace of the ancient evil. It was just Collin and his icy hot kisses that I felt.

He turned me towards him, "Ivy, I'll do everything I can to protect you, but I have to tell you something. Kreturus and I have a past. He's targeting me, and not just because of you. When we were in New York, I told you that I made a bargain with him - my soul for yours." Collin held my shoulders, but couldn't meet my eyes, "That was the deal. I told you that I'd do anything to escape my life as a Valefar. I wanted my soul back. Kreturus promised me I would have it. Since demons have a tendency to lie and not follow through on their promises, I demanded part of my soul before I began looking for you. Kreturus gave it to me."

I couldn't believe what Collin was telling me. Kreturus had given him part of his soul? That meant Valefar could be restored! That meant that I could save Apryl and undo the horrors I inflicted on Eric! Hope soared within me and deafened me to the solemn look on Collin's face. If I'd noticed his expression, I wouldn't have jacked myself up so high on hope, because as soon as he finished his story, I felt miserable.

"Ivy, he gave me a piece of my soul. He said it was a down payment - a glimpse of what I would get when I completed my task. Kreturus went the Pool of Lost Souls and called my soul out. He took a portion of it and infused it into my Valefar body. My soul and my body were reunited. But, it didn't work." Collin released my shoulders and tipped his head toward the ground. The toe of his shoe scraped against the loose dirt. "As soon as my soul was reunited with my body, it became rancid - like it didn't belong inside of me. When the Valefar killed me, I was a good man with a good soul. When Kreturus gave me back my soul, I was an evil man with an evil body. The good soul and the bad body couldn't fuse again, not without force. So that's what Kreturus did. He forced the soul to reattach to me, and in doing so, corrupted it. My soul had to become like me to live within me."

Collin laughed coldly, folding his arms tightly to his chest. "I thought I outsmarted Kreturus. I thought that piece of soul would free me from him, but it turns out he outsmarted me. Because it doesn't matter how pure my soul was before, there is no way it will merge with my body ever again - not after living the life of a Valefar. But when he forced it, he forced the evil from hundreds of lifetimes onto that tiny piece of soul. And no soul could bear that kind of abuse. That bit of soul wasn't enough to free me from being a Valefar. It wasn't enough to lift the curse that binds me to Kreturus." He looked haunted, revealing a memory filled with pain that he didn't want to relive. He bargained with Kreturus.

And lost.

I threw my arms around him and kissed his cheek. He wouldn't look me in the eye, so I placed my hands on his cheeks, and turned his face toward me. Looking him in the eyes I said, "It was still you who saved me. It was your soul, no matter how tiny, that saved me the night Jake tried to kill me."

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